Bulletin March 16 2018. Time flies like a banana

It’s funny, isn’t it, how we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about technology, the benefits it can bring and so on, and then cover all the related topics in a rush — the “it’s not as simple as that” stuff like security and management, “the things people don’t realise” areas, like business people not caring all that much (though this is changing). In general, we reach universal agreement that such topics are as important, if not more important, than the tech. 

If, like me, you’ve been around the block a few times more than you’d like (to whit, a story: “That bloke over there, he looks really old, older than me!” I said. “No he doesn’t,” replied my wife), then this pattern will be all too familiar, with the latter part often finishing in the bar. If only pubs held design workshops, imagine how far we would have advanced. 

Even more surprising by its frequent absence, is the notion of time. Surprising, as we are told that it is one of the most important factors: transform or die, goes the mantra, as everything gets faster, and faster, and faster. Graphs on this topic are typically exponential — the years for an innovation to go mainstream, the likely lifespan of new companies, each follows a similar curve. 

Clearly, we are talking about one aspect of time. What comes up less are the very fixed timescales that still occupy most, if not all companies: for example, technology refresh cycles are set at two years, plus or minus, and enterprise contracts can be fixed at three or even more, particularly for outsourcing. 

For tech vendors, these cycles are both a blessing and a curse. Knowing when your target’s contracts come up for renewal is very important, of course; but once an acquisition has taken place, it is almost impossible to displace. And sales people are driven by another, quarterly cycle, which gets even less of a mention despite the fact that it influences the client relationship more than anything else. Apart, of course, than the vendor’s own annual cycle…

The pay-as-you-go model does have its advantages, minimising up-front costs and so on, but as anyone who has tried it knows, it has not thus far replaced standard procurement cycles that apply to most other things an organisation might need. A cursory search shows that IT budgets are going to be a maximum of 7% of corporate spend, so you can understand why nobody’s looking to transform procurement to make way for the credit card model. 

And even this may be transient. Even now, it looks like we are moving from the mother of all technology centralisation waves (a.k.a. the shift into the cloud) into what may well be its teeming offspring — the Internet of Things is one manifestation of our distributed future, as are the local processing needs driven by machine learning. What payment models this triggers is anybody’s guess. 

But even as things continue to speed up, the chances are we will continue to operate within some pretty fixed cycles. Yes, indeed, it’s strange how they never get discussed. Must dash, meanwhile here’s some articles. Oh and P.S. yes, I know, time flies like an arrow. But fruit flies like a banana. Hat-tip to Rob Bamforth, in a Portakabin by a slurry pit, an awfully long time ago…

Which matters most – vision, skill, effort, money or technology acumen?

Speaking of talking about things that we talk about vs those which will make a real difference, there’s a general theme in business circles around making a difference, change, etc, much of which boils down to “try this technology and do things differently…” but the fact of the matter is, if it was so simple everyone would have done it already. For an incumbent, being as smart as the startups is tough, in the same way that for someone recording in their bedroom, becoming a rock star is hard. Perhaps we should spend as much time talking about grit and determination, experimentation and making luck, as much as we do business value and all that. Thank you to Jon Pyke for the Tommy Flowers article. 

5 questions for… Roger Davies, Value Management Guru 

While I never was a business consultant, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with some really good ones – one of whom is Roger, founder of Impact Dynamics and author of a book on Value Management. What’s that, I hear you ask? To quote Roger, “It’s what you need when you realise Balanced Scorecard isn’t adequate…” A couple of newsletters ago, I called Roger out on the notion of money, and he was kind enough to put me right, I’ve summarised his response in this article. 

5 questions for… Aware by Wiretap

Staff monitoring is always going to be a touchy area, however it is dressed up (Data Leakage Prevention or DLP is one such interpretation). At the same time, people are people, mostly harmless through malice or stupidity. Aware by Wiretap looks at what’s going through the new generation of collaboration platforms, so is it more a well-meaning onlooker or a tin-pot general? That’s for customers, and their employees, to decide but ultimately, what matters more are the policies and attitudes that encompass it. 

In other news… the Origami Mobile Phone Stand

“Ever been stuck, miles from a gadget shop and needing to prop up your smartphone to watch a video or do some typing?” Back in 2013 I was in a B&B on the Gower Peninsula in Wales, and at a loose end, so I thought I’d tackle one of modern society’s greatest challenges. At the time not many had done it (well), so this became the number one origami smartphone stand on Google. Oh fickle fame, it is no longer but for a moment I could stand tall among the paper folding community. Here’s the link.

Thanks as ever to all my subscribers. A few people have asked if it’s OK to forward this – of course, please do! Any other questions or feedback, let me know.

Until next time, Jon

Bulletin March 16 2018. Time flies like a banana

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